For a long season I went about wondering, “Why am I so sad?” I finally began to notice the pattern. Pictures of devastating loss and grief of the past would come to mind at various times in my present. As a result, a wave of sadness would overtake my heart, and I would feel like I was experiencing the same loss all over again. The grief could have been caused by the passing of a beloved, a deep regret, or heartbreak over a hard circumstance. I just could not seem to heal.
During these spiritual assaults, I would even begin to feel guilty for not grieving enough, blame myself and recount the steps over what I could have done differently to avoid such calamities – even over tragedies that weren’t my fault. It felt like I was being suffocated with loss and each time I tried to move forward in life, the mental images/recordings of these past events would pull me back into the past. The Lord gave me a new perspective to guide me out of this valley of the shadow of death.
The wise words of a Pastor voiced years ago came to remembrance, “The enemy of our souls does not play by the rules of human decency and respect. There are no areas off limits. He will use anything at his disposal to trip you up, discourage you, and keep you from walking in God’s will for your life – even grief and loss. If you are happy, he’ll suggest ideas/images to make you sad. If you are hopeful, he will suggest what ifs to make you fear or dread the future, if you are focused, he will try to make you and second guess yourself. Such are the flaming arrows of the enemy.”
The eternal truths of God’s word in the Bible brought hope: In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, we learn about seasons of life, specifically, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” I knew I took time to grieve the loss/heartbreak before the Lord when certain events occurred, so why was I so sad over those same events – some that had occurred decades earlier? In Ephesians 6, we are taught about the armor of God and how using the shield of faith can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. In Psalm 56, we discover that God puts our tears in a bottle and writes them in His book. He is aware of all our trials, losses, and hurts, each are noted. So then, what is our faith when faced with continual revisits to past seasons of grief and loss? For me, it was ensuring I had taken time to grieve and recognize that the Lord has bottled up every tear by realizing not one moment of weeping goes unnoticed by the Almighty, for Psalm 56 says that God puts our tears in a bottle and writes them in His book. He is aware of all our trials, losses, and hurts, each are noted.
I began to recognize these returning images that caused my heart to grieve deeply as fiery arrows of the enemy. Each time an event from the past would resurface, I would make a conscious effort to commit it to the Lord and say, “You have already bottled those tears. I have grieved enough. I thank you, Lord, that You took all the pain, and outcome of that loss is in Your Hands, those loved ones are in Your Presence, and my lot is to move forward and live and move and have my being in Thee – not just exist. But live my life with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength as unto the Thee, for my times are in Your Hands.”
I realized that my walk is to look forward and not dwell in the past – not as one who is cold and untouched by loss, but a well-seasoned heart filled with compassion and mercy – not bitterness and gall, transformed by the renewing of my mind in Christ Jesus.
My hope is in Jesus. My life is in Him. My great reward is Him. Oh heart, be thou filled with the peace that passes all understanding through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Psalm 56: 1-13
“Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me; all day long an attacker oppresses me; my enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? All day long they injure my cause; all their thoughts are against me for evil. They stir up strife, they lurk; they watch my steps, as they have waited for my life. For their crime will they escape? In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?
I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.”
Hymn: How Firm a Foundation (circa 1787)
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in God’s excellent Word!
What more can be said than to you God hath said,
to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
for I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
for I will be near thee, thy troubles to bless,
and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
my grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
the flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
that soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no, never, no, never forsake.